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December 23, 2011 / mommylok

Setting Myself Up for Disappointment

A few months ago, I posted Family Trumps All where I talked about an upcoming trip to Las Vegas to visit family that would happen over the week of Thanksgiving.

I was extremely stressed about having to travel by airplane with my 3 kids alone.  I booked my flights through Jet Blue, hoping that their TVs would keep my kids occupied.  (By the way, because I like to digress, when my kids discovered the TVs on the plane, the first thing that my 2 year old did was to point as the screen, trying to maneuver something around.  He is truly a by-product of this techy generation!)  Prior to the vacation, I tweeted with Jet Blue, asking them if they had any “I feel sorry for moms who travel with 3 young kids alone discounts”, half joking and half hoping that they really would offer me something!  To my expected dismay, they responded with a polite “not really”.  However, to my delight, they followed up with the comment, “you can call us ahead of time and request assistance.”  And I did just that.  2 days before the flight, I frantically called Jet Blue and gave them the heads up that some crazy mother and her 3 kids will be flying with them shortly!

To add to the stress, my husband also told me a few days before I was set to take-off that he had a site-visit for work that he could not reschedule.  I would have to arrange for someone else to take the kids and me to the airport.  What kind of crap is that?  His employer is sooo not getting a Holiday card from me this year!

It worked out that my sister-in-law was able to drive us, but since I was already inconveniencing her, I did not want to ask her to park the car and check-in with us.  I told myself, plenty of moms out there travel with their children alone and don’t complain.  I can be a better person and stop crying over self-pity!

When we arrived at JFK Airport, I headed straight to curb-side check-in while sternly telling my kids over and over again that they need to hold hands and walk in front of me.  With every 3-4 steps I made, I repeated myself to the kids.  Paranoid?  Yes, extremely.  It didn’t help that I was carrying an over-sized backpack while pulling a rolling duffel that was topped with another travel bag.  Despite my husband’s warning that I needed to pack light, I just could not manage to fit everyone’s clothing in the rolling duffel (winter clothes take up a lot of space!)  I was hoping that someone at curb-side check-in would see me and jump at the chance to assist me.  Well, let’s just say I should keep hoping.  The guys that greeted me were extremely courteous but mentioned that there would be a fee to check-in at curb-side.  I thought to myself, “seriously?”  I was too cheap to pay the few dollars and decided that I’d lug everything inside and chance the lines.  And yes, I lugged everything myself.

To my pleasant surprise, the line inside was not long at all.  When I reached the ticketing agent, he greeted me with a smile and I smiled back, eager to dump my bags.  The agent says to me, “I see that you requested assistance.  Do you still need it or are you OK?  You look like you have everything under control!” Then he went on to assure me going through Security wouldn’t be bad at all – that I could definitely handle it.  Does he really think I’m that capable?  Maybe I should look at the bright side and take the comment to be a compliment.  Again, I thought “seriously?”  Do I  need to justify the fact that I could use an additional escort to get to the gate?  JFK is an extremely busy airport and something could easily happen to any one of my kids!  Rather than going through the trouble of requesting the additional assistance, I just said, “You’re right, I can do it myself.”  Note to Jet Blue – please do not offer assistance and assure your customers that you’re eager to help and then make them feel bad for requesting it!

While waiting in the security line, I received many “You’re so brave” comments which made me feel good.  I don’t know why I was looking for the validation, but it seemed to help me feel a little better.  I thought, ok, maybe this won’t be that bad.  That thought diminished when my kids started getting pushed around because it took them too long to put their shoes and coats back on.  Let me remind you, my kids were 2, 4 and 6 years old.  Before I was able to verbally express what I was feeling at that point, the look must have said it all as the passengers glanced over and said with barely an apologetic tone, “sorry, I’m late for my flight.”

Let’s fast forward – I’ve done enough ranting and raving.  As we boarded the plane, the kids were getting excited.  The pilots saw the 3 monkeys and invited them into the cockpit – now that, Jet Blue, was pretty amazing.  Thank you for that.

Are any of you familiar with Disney’s Little Einsteins?  The Little Einsteins are pat, pat, patting until Rocket takes off – and that is exactly what my youngest, R, was doing as we were waiting to take off.  But very loudly.  It was quite hilarious.  The kids had no issues with the take-off and luckily the flight was fairly turbulence-free.  Other than R continuously asking me “are we going home? I want to go home!”, I was able to finally relax on the plane.

The flight was a night flight and I was hoping that either the kids would fall asleep early (they were in school all day) or they would be so excited that they’d stay awake.  R fell asleep about an hour before we landed and my oldest, M, fell asleep literally as we were landing.  She just couldn’t fight the fatigue.  Can’t you tell (see below photo!)

With 3 kids completely passed out, I didn’t know what to do.  I was hoping that one of the passengers would stop and feel sorry for me.   The hope became despair as the plane emptied and I just stood there, staring at my exhausted kids.  I yelled at my kids to “wake up!”, thinking that maybe the Jet Blue flight attendants would offer assistance.  They were too busy cleaning the plane to even notice.  Not one person, passenger or staff, stopped by to offer any sort of assistance.

Now, there’s a common theme to this post – I expected a lot from my fellow human beings.  I actually thought that traveling would be ok because someone, somewhere would offer their help.  I was afraid to tell Jet Blue “yes, I need to waste someone’s time so I can safely arrive at the departing gate.”  I set myself up for major disappointment and learned a good lesson.  Being polite and attempting to be thoughtful and not impose on anybody else does NOT pay.   I’m ashamed to actually write that because that’s not who I am, but perhaps if part of my traveling turned out differently, I wouldn’t be such a downer.

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9 Comments

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  1. Rosey / Dec 23 2011 2:48 PM

    I think people are scared to offer assistance with other people’s kids in public. I’m generally very good-natured and willing to help on a second’s notice, but in public, when it comes to other people’s children, I get leery. I’m not sure why… I guess because I don’t want to risk offending. I gave a mom a shoe one time that her child lost while they were walking in an airport and she was clearly annoyed that I’d stopped her for anything.I laughed because I knew she’d have been more annoyed when she tried to put that child down to walk around with only one shoe. 🙂

    So…and not that it helps, but it might offer a different perspective…there probably were other people willing to help, they just probably felt uncomfortable offering.

    I’m glad you did your flight though…and yep, you are totally brave. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!!

    • mommylok / Dec 23 2011 2:51 PM

      You bring up a good point. I think I was just so overly flustered from the whole experience that I had to express it somehow. I’m sure I’ll laugh this one over in another few months! 🙂

  2. Bicultural Mama / Dec 23 2011 4:23 PM

    First of all, congrats on surviving a long plane ride with young kids along. That is super tough. I to think people in general sort of mind their own business, they’re in their own world and don’t offer to help. However, it would have been nice if anyone would have offered, even if you said no. I find that people help when you have a baby. Not sure if it’s because babies are small and cute? But I’m guessing with an older kid you’re on your own. Hope you don’t have to travel with all 3 kids on a plane anytime soon again. Also, had no idea airlines started charging for curbside check-in. They use to want a tip. Everything is charged nowadays to fly, it’s so annoying. You can’t even check a bag without getting charged $30 each way, and bringing baggage is a basic part of traveling.

    • mommylok / Dec 28 2011 12:12 PM

      Thanks, Maria! After this trip, it will be a long time before I travel w/ the kids alone! And yes, I agree about all the fees nowadays! It IS annoying!

  3. Nikki @ Mommy Factor / Dec 23 2011 5:36 PM

    Can I just tell you when I had to travel with my son, I was in a panic also. Traveling with a child is scary and I wish I was as smart as you to call the airport and ask for help. Because like you kids my son also feel asleep. *smh* I had to carry him off the plane myself.

    I know your bummed out that things didn’t go as smooth as you hoped but give yourself a pat on the back, You survived traveling with 3 kids! Good job mom 🙂

    • mommylok / Dec 28 2011 12:11 PM

      Well, it wasn’t so smart because I didn’t follow through w/ the request for help! Lesson learned 🙂

  4. Asianmommy / Dec 27 2011 8:17 PM

    I’m impressed! You did a great job. Hope you had a good time in Vegas.

  5. KC / Dec 29 2011 9:44 AM

    Too bad you can’t put all 3 kids on a trolley (like the ones that are used to move furniture). I’m sure that would have come in handy. Love the pic though! And yes, you are brave for doing that.

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